Articles Tagged with Federal Charges

It was the height of the Holiday shopping season last month, when a middle aged woman wearing sweat pants and a dark colored hat walked into a bank and simply handed a teller a note which read “This is a robbery. Smile & act naturally”. She also told the teller that she was armed and wouldn’t hesitate to use her weapon, “so don’t act like a hero”, even though witnesses to the apparent robbery didn’t see a weapon in the woman’s possession, according to the federal criminal complaint.

After her arrest, which took place three days after the alleged robbery, and after being taken into custody, Sonya Clark, who is fifty two years old and works for a moving company also seemingly confessed to robbing a local branch of a TD bank in Boynton Beach late last year, near her residence. The bank that was hit in Fort Lauderdale was also a TD Bank
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As is explained on my Website, under a section titled “How do you know if the crime you are charged with is federal?” the government can take interest in cases that do not usually appear to apply under federal jurisdiction just because they become absorbed in a case being pursued by the state. One cause where this may also occur involves crimes against children.

Jeffery London, a so-called trusted member of the Broward County community was first arrested after sexual molestation charges came to light from one young man who was twenty years old at the time the complaint was alleged in 2012. In total, London was facing 27 counts of abuse.

London was a youth counselor with the Boys & Girls Club in Broward County in the 1990s as well as being a youth pastor at Bible Church of God in Fort Lauderdale. At one time, he was also a dean of students at Eagle Charter Academy in Lauderdale Lakes.

The unnamed young man accused London of sexually abusing him over a ten-year period when he moved in with London during a time when his natural mother was undergoing financial difficulties. The minor was between five and six years old at the time when he took up residence with the pastor.

After the first of these allegations was charged, nine more victims came forward accusing London of raping them when they were under his care.

At his first trial in March, 2014, the prosecution spoke in detail of the instances of many cases of sexual abuse that the youths encountered, and expressed to the jury what was believed to be overwhelming evidence of incriminating text messages. Several accusers took the witness stand with what appeared to be damning testimony. When taking the stand, Clive Lowe, who used to live with the defendant, told the jury that London asked him how long he thought most people kept their text message history.

One of his accusers was asked by the prosecution what he received in exchange for the “sexual favors”. He testified that London gave him gifts such as candy, money, sometimes entertainment games, and clothes. When the prosecutor pressed the witness about how much money was exchanged he replied “the most like $300 to $400.”

When London took the stand, he repeatedly denied all charges. His attorney mentioned all his accusers by name, asking London if he molested them, each time receiving the same emphatic answer of no. London continued his testimony by implying that his confronters “were upset at being evicted from the home he provided for them;” an unlicensed foster home nicknamed London’s Hotel, when they refused to follow his rules which included not smoking, attending school and following a curfew.

During deliberations, what may have been a turning point in the jury”s ultimate decision was when they questioned the judge about the definition of “reasonable doubt.” In answer, the judge told the jury that they should go back and re-read the jury instruction. When they completed deliberations, just after 2:00 that afternoon, they returned a verdict of not guilty for all twenty seven counts.

Despite the riveting testimony from four of the now grown men who testified that London molested them as children, the jury apparently wasn”t convinced, and may have believed that reasonable doubt indeed existed. London”s defense attorney was quoted as saying “I think it came down to no physical evidence.”

Although found not guilty by the Broward Circuit Court jury, London was not released from jail as he will have to face a separate trial charging him with the same allegations by four other men that claim he sexually abused them when they were minors.

But in December of last year the federal government took an interest in the case.

The government first asked the state to delay the case and then had the state drop the remaining charges against London in an agreement to indict him in a new federal case. The sole federal charge in the new proceeding would be using a cell phone to entice a teenage boy into sexual activity with him. The boy is London”s distant relative.

The new trial began in a Fort Lauderdale federal courtroom in mid-June.

The new federal charge is not considered violative of the Double Jeopardy clause of the Federal constitution because the elements of the lone federal count are different then the elements of the previous 27 State charges and was being prosecuted by the federal government as a dual and independent sovereign according to legal experts.

U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas heard opening arguments from the government and the defense immediately upon the conclusion of jury selection. The alleged victim spoke for nearly an hour. When asked how the abuse began, he said “One day, it just got weird… I didn’t say nothing [sic]. I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t know what to do.”

He went on to say that what began as disciplinary visits transformed into belt “whoopings,” then moved on to forced oral sex and then a one-time anal-sex encounter that he got paid for. He also said that he was given video games, movies, his first cellphone, and new clothes in exchange, or as a reward. He also said that he remembered the first time it happened when he was about seven years old. London invited him to sleep in his bed, putting his arms around him and then began licking his ear and neck. He went on to say that London then pulled his pants down, hugged him forcefully, and pushed down the top of his head showing him how to perform oral sex.

The prosecuter for the government stated that “under the guise of providing a safe haven for children in need, the defendant, Jeffery London, preyed upon the very children that he convinced everybody that he was helping.” She continued by saying that he did so by the use of “lies, trickery, deceit, coercion and instilling the fear of God in his victims.”

The Assistant Federal Public Defender argued that London was an “extraordinary youth minister who acted as a role model for troubled boys… He wanted to do something about the lack of father figures in young men’s lives… He taught them how to be responsible, he made sure they got an education and he taught them how to be men … and he’s repaid by these accusations.”

The defense attorney also introduced evidence of London’s alleged victims pending civil lawsuit at the time of the federal trial indicating the alleged former victims in the State’s unsuccessful prosecution were expecting a big payday in the pending civil lawsuit.

The text messages will also be introduced as evidence as the case continues. Check back here for further updates.

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Former Corrections Officer Jerry St. Fleur, 26, was sentenced to over four years in a federal prison after agreeing to a plea deal for charges of identity theft and wire fraud. Over sixty thousand dollars that was proceeds from his scheme will also be forfeited. He faced up to twenty years in federal prison before submitting to the guilty plea.

But in 2014, St. Fleur was not alone when it came to officers from Florida’s Department of Corrections being arrested, accepting guilty pleas and being sentenced for their crimes.

St. Fleur was the third employee of Florida Correctional Institutions to be sent to federal prison for their transgressions. Just one month earlier, former juvenile probation officer Corey A. Coley was sentenced to more than seven years for identity theft and filing false tax returns and just two months prior to that resolution, former federal corrections Officer Michael J. Garland was sentenced to two years after he pleaded guilty for charges of bribery and smuggling contraband into a federal prison.

In this latest case St. Fleur’s guilty plea was established based on charges that he stole the identities of existing and former inmates who either served or were serving time at the Zephyrhills Correctional Facility. He used the data to file more than one hundred eighty bogus tax returns requesting refunds in an amount that exceeded one half million dollars

St. Fleur was arrested this past May on five separate counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft by using his authority to acquire birth dates and Social Security numbers that he matched up to the names of inmates currently serving their sentences at the facility. He was also charged with using the FDOC database to acquire the same information for inmates who previously were incarcerated there. He would use the former and present inmate’s personal identifying information (PII) to file the phony returns

After filing the fraudulent tax returns he directed payment to be deposited to debit cards that was held by accomplices who took part in his scheme.

The charges against St. Fleur of identity theft and wire fraud are both federal crimes which were investigated by the FBI and IRS. Locally, the investigation was assisted by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office leading to St. Fleur’s arrest and subsequent guilty plea and sentence. It was prosecuted by Matthew Jackson, Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida.

The Coley case resulted with him receiving a sentence of more than seven years in federal prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, as well as conspiracy. He was also ordered to return $671,023. That amount was the minimum monetary quantity calculated to be what he and his three accomplices obtained through the scheme. His co-conspirators also received significant punishments.

Albert E. Moore, Jr. was sentenced to more than six years, Tigi Moore received a four year sentence and Mattie Philon received the shortest sentence of two years in federal prison.

The case against Garland concluded with a two year prison sentence and the forfeiture of $4,200 which was the amount traced as being the financial proceeds of his crimes.

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